©July 2010 by Fabienne Lopez
If they are unknown, they have to deal with the fear based reaction of their family and friends. “Aren’t you afraid you are never going to be successful? Aren’t you afraid of the continuous rejection you will have to deal with? Aren’t you afraid that you are going to devote your entire life to this craft and nothing will ever come out of it? No money, no rewards, no glory? Aren’t you afraid at the end of your life to see only heaps of broken dreams slathered with the bitter taste of failure?
If they have achieved a major breakthrough, they are forever doomed by the fact that all their subsequent work will be measured against that one successful accomplishment. Or even worse, by the realization that their best work is behind them.
It is easy therefore to understand how creative people have earned a reputation for suffering and has transformed the pains of the creative process into a romantic view. Norman Mailer stated just before his death that each of his books had killed him a little bit.
Society has so completely and inherently accepted that creativity and suffering go together that collectively we do not even question that assumption anymore. Somehow, the standard norm has become that you have to die for your art.
My question then becomes how can I manage the emotional risk of creativity? As I was researching for an article on the astrological indications of creativity in a chart, I came across the Greek and Roman traditions of daemon and genius. Both societies believed that creativity was a divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant unknowable source for some distant and unknowable reasons. Greeks called these divine attendant spirits of creativity Daemons. Socrates believed that he had a Daemon that spoke wisdom to him from afar. Romans referred to this disembodied creative spirit as a Genius. They believed that a Genius was a magical divine entity that literally lived in the walls of an artist studio and came out to help the artist shape the final art work.
I like this idea. In our contemporary time we seem to put the emphasis of creativity all upon the artist (rather than see them as merely a vessel, a cup if you will) and rarely think of the artist as a normal individual with aches and pains just like all others. But in Ancient Rome or Greece you could not take all the credit for your work. If your work was brilliant the daemon had helped you and if your work was not the best, you were not entirely responsible.
What this does is to allows us to have a saner relationship with the creative mystery. It allows us to give up the need to control and manage and dominate creative inspiration. It allows us to work more in partnership way. We can take the genie and collaborate with it. It could work like this: I show up for work and so does the genie. If any of us calls in sick, then the works piles in the inbox. But if both of us are on time, I, the artist, can enter a portal and become the vessel for the divine spark.
If we believe that the most extraordinary part of your being does not come from you but are on a loan to you from some unimaginable source to be passed on when you are done, then things become to change. The suffering vanishes leaving just the taste of ambrosia.
Photos: Flickr Creative Commons